Nearly 140 Alle-Kiski Valley kids are learning how to have fun while also giving back to their community this week at the annual Fun and Freedom summer camp in Springdale.
The camp is run by the faith-based nonprofit Fun and Freedom, which holds several events for area children throughout the year. The summer camp, for students in first through sixth grades, is the group’s biggest event of the year and was started to foster a less competitive edge when playing sports and to teach kids to care about their community through service projects.
“We want the fun back in sports,” said Kathy Kotlinkski, assistant sports director for the camp. “We’re all in for the kids.”
The weeklong camp includes time playing various sports, swimming at Bouquet Park Pool, Bible study and community service projects.
“I’m excited to go to the pool,” said Blake Schaffer, 6.
This year the campers helped pull weeds and plant flowers at the Rachel Carson homestead.
Schaffer helped pull the weeds.
“I had fun,” he said.
Best friends Ainsley Wade, 9, and Nicole Woitas, 8, both of Springdale, have attended the camp for about three years.
“(We) do fun games and play on the playground,” Wade said of why she likes coming to the camp.
The girls enjoyed getting to plant flowers.
“I love planting roses,” Woitas said.
In addition to the 133 campers, an additional 100 teens and adults volunteer as camp counselors.
Lindsay Moser has been a volunteer for 16 years. Now a teacher at Penn Hills High School, she still makes time to help during the camp.
“This is my way to help kids in the summer when I’m not in the classroom,” Moser said.
First-year counselor Alexio Ciorra, 17, of Oakmont, said he decided to become a counselor because he wanted to gain more experience working with others and being a leader.
He said he has enjoyed seeing the younger kids play together and complete the service projects.
“They’re all so enthusiastic about everything,” he said.